Model Shantel Miskin wears the garment Body Armour: A Weave of Reflection Pink and Orange 2018 by Grace Lillian Lee. (Supplied: Bendigo Art Gallery, Wade Lewis)
The expression Piinpi carries meaning for the Kaantju people from Coen on the east Cape York Peninsula.
- Bendigo Art Gallery announces a new major exhibit called Piinpi
- The exhibit will showcase Indigenous practices in textiles, design, and fabrics through contemporary fashion
- It follows the success of the art gallery’s Royal family, Balenciaga, and Marilyn Monroe exhibits
It describes seasonal changes and the regeneration of country, a meaning that for young southern Kaantju woman Shonae Hobson is more than carrying on the language of her great-grandmother.
The First Nations curator at the Bendigo Art Gallery is preparing the major exhibition of the same name ahead of its opening in July when Indigenous designs and textiles will be showcased through contemporary fashion.
Bendigo Art Gallery First Nations curator Shonae Hobson is producing and developing the Piinpi exhibit. (ABC Central Victoria: Tyrone Dalton)
“Piinpi really encapsulates this idea of knowing the land and caring for the land, but also those designs and that knowledge of caring for the land is really very much reflected in a lot of the garments,” Ms Hobson said.
“So you’ve got beautiful designs and bush foods and some of the textile prints, but also that knowledge and traditional use of materials and natural plant dyes.”
A first for Indigenous culture
Designs by Indigenous artists Grace Lillian Lee, Lyn-Al Young, Maree Clark, Lisa Waaup x Verner and Hopevale Arts will be among some of the collections on display.
A diversity of garments, dyes, fabric printing, basket work and jewellery by Indigenous artists and designers from across Australia — from cities and remote centres — will be on display.
“We’ve got fabric printing to woven baskets to traditional costumes, but we’re also working with contemporary artists to really bring that element of fun streetwear,” Ms Hobson said.
And it’s as much a celebration of Indigenous people as it is a personal triumph for Ms Hobson.
“I think for First Nations artists and designers, it’s the right time because this industry is really being led by First Nations people,” Ms Hobson said.
The Piinpi exhibit will show traditional costumes, as well as contemporary streetwear. (Supplied: Bendigo Art Gallery, Wade Lewis)
“And a lot of the designs that you’ll see, the creative process and the storytelling is coming and being led by First Nations people.”
Piinpi follows the success of the large-scale blockbuster exhibitions of Tudors to Windsors, Balenciaga, and the Marilyn Monroe showcase at the Bendigo Art Gallery.
Works featured in the Piinpi exhibition will be acquired by the gallery and will form the beginning of its Australian Fashion Collection.
A run of success
The gallery’s director Jessica Bridgfoot said the exhibit was the first time Indigenous textiles had been exclusively shown in a contemporary international fashion show.
“Fashion designers and textile designers have had a long history of being able to tell social, political, and cultural stories through their fashion design,” she said.
Bendigo Art Gallery director Jessica Bridgfoot says Piinpi will kick off the gallery’s Indigenous collection. (ABC Central Victoria: Tyrone Dalton)
“We feel that it’s really timely for us to start building a collection in this space and we’re going to kick it off with some major acquisitions through Piinpi.”
Victorian Government minister and Member for Bendigo East Jacinta Allan said the exhibit will be a drawcard for tourism in regional Victoria.
“This is another fantastic example of the great leadership that has been shown out of the Bendigo Art Gallery and putting forward cutting edge exhibitions that are also telling local stories of our Indigenous communities,” she said.